The little dial spins slowly, click-click-click. Even though it's warm out, near 40 degrees, I push the dial until it reaches the highest setting. If it has nothing else, my next car will have heated seats.
My mum slides into the SVU next to me, hands grip the steering wheel. Like synchronized divers, we both reach for our seat-belts. In my family, the car doesn't start until everyone is properly strapped in. Having a nurse for a mother means adhering to certain safety standards. The engine rumbles to life and degree-by-degree the leather under my thighs grows warm. I sigh with pleasure and rearrange my skirt for maximum leg coverage.
The house in front of us grows smaller as we back out of the driveway, glide down the street. I watch the pastel balloons, tied to porch railing, flap in the wind. Why does everyone insist on using pastel colors for a baby shower? I want my color theme to be bold and bright and full of life. Not washed out and dull.
The mother-to-be seemed pleased. It was a fun party. The food choices were healthy - a small pile of fruit and raw veggies sit happy in my stomach. The party games were unobtrusive but fun - all were crafty or quick.
In one month, there will be a new addition to the family. That my brother is reproducing seems surreal, though I've had seven months to prepare. I wonder if I'll ever be at the point where I feel ready for children. It's not that I don't want children (I do, very much) or that I'm not financially stable (both Penguin and I have very good jobs). I am of an appropriate age (late-twenties) and I live in a clean, safe neighborhood with a good school district. Hell, I even have a man who wants to reproduce with me and I him. It should be no shocker why I hesitate.
How do I stay healthy, keep the fetus healthy, with an ED? How do I take care of a child when my ED demands so much of my free time?
As if she were reading my mind, my mum says, "Did you see Misty [the daughter of a close family friend]? She's lost a lot of weight. I guess she ballooned after she recovered from bulimia."
Startled, I ask, "Misty was bulimic?"
Mum looks over at me, eyebrows raised. "You remember when she disappeared for a year? Her parents sent her down to rehab in Montana, near her grandparents. Sad thing, I guess she was bulimic all through high school. I thought you knew."
I frown and looked down at my hands.
My mother's words burrow into my brain. "It sounds like bulimia almost killed her. I can't imagine how she developed an eating disorder, she comes from such a good family. She and her brother were such high achievers growing up."
Without thinking, I add, "Eating disorders have the highest fatality rate of any mental illness."
Mom responds, eyes still on the road. "Really? I didn't know that."
I shake my head. Just a little. She's a nurse and yet she knows nothing about eating disorders. Most people don't. It's frustrating and disheartening, and I so badly want a culture change. This is the reason I can't tell her about my own ED. My parent's will think they did something wrong. They will think they broke me. They will think I am broken.
Every once in a while I think I should confide in someone. I've not met anyone who was able to recover without support. Conversations like this make me glad I kept my mouth shut. I don't want to be the girl people talk about. That poor girl. That dysfunctional girl. That weak, stupid, fat girl.